December 3, 2009

Chvatal Family X-Mas Card 2009

Happy holidays everyone! Since I don't have all of your mailing addresses to actually send you our Christmas card I thought I would post it instead :)

From my family to yours, we wish you all the best this holiday season!

December 2, 2009

Borders, Borders, Borders

I love borders! They are great for layering and can add so much pop to a design. Here are two sets that I recently posted to the shop. They work especially well in greeting card layouts and web design! You can even print them on heavy cardstock and cut them out by hand to add some detail and whimsy to craft projects. For now, these cute shapes are available in PNG format in my Etsy shop. Early next year I'll have EPS (vector), DXF (digital cutter), and GSD (digital cutter) files available on my website! Stay tuned to hear more about that.

Rudolph goes Applique

It never ceases to amaze me how creative people can be with clip art! Sandra, from Applicatie-en-zo, has created some ADORABLE appliques using Classic Rudolph and Rudolph Trio from my shop. They are a perfect match to the clip art and would make an adorable decoration on any number of holiday goodies.

If you'd like to purchase these appliques from Sandra, you can visit her online store Applicatie-en-zo HERE. Or, visit her BLOG to see some of the other creative things she's done!

Sandra is in the Netherlands so let me know if you need assistance navigating the site or would like her contact information.

November 10, 2009

Changing Colors in Adobe Elements

For those of you not familiar with it, Adobe Elements is a very affordable (approx. $100) and relatively user friendly photo editing software that can do some amazing things! It includes standard photo correction and editing features along with templates for scrapbook pages, photo books, and slide-shows. I could probably write a whole review about the benefits of this software but I only have 45 minutes until Brandon wakes up from his nap so I best get to the point.

One of the most beneficial features of Adobe Elements is that you can use it to re-color PNG images! This is especially beneficial if you are trying to match one element to another and/or coordinate your color pallet.

For the tutorial below, I'm working in Elements 6 but the steps should be pretty similar no matter which version you're using.

1. Open Elements and select Edit or go directly to the Editing screen.

2. Click File and then Open and select the PNG image you'd like to edit. I'll be using one of the birds in the Tweet Tweet - Ultra Brights set.

3. Use the paint bucket to fill in the color areas you want to change. Be careful and use the undo button if you accidentally fill the same color in two areas that are next to one another. Once you do that they will merge into one area. Use the color pallet box (second circle) to select the fill color.


 4. When you are finished editing, click File and Save As. Make sure PNG is selected as the file type and rename the file so that it does not overwrite the old one. When you are finished, simply use the new file the same way you would have used the old one.   :)

Some image files may not work (like if there's a lot of shading or drop shadows) but for the most part this should give you good results.

November 9, 2009

What is a PNG file anyway?

PNG is a bitmap image format that allows for image compression and transfer on the web without a significant loss of data. It's very similar to GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) and was developed as an alternative to the aforementioned in the late 1980's.

The beauty of a PNG file is that it supports transparency within an image. So does GIF, but  PNG goes even farther and allows for partially transparent values (think see through color spaces). This aspect is quite appealing when it comes to clip art and digital design elements. Having a transparent background and transparency within an image allows the user to overlap and layer elements within a design. This is especially important to designers working with publishing/photo software that does not support vector files (i.e. Microsoft Publisher, Photoshop, Invitation Software, etc.)

Although PNG files have been around for about 15 years many people don't know what they are and routinely request JPEG versions of my clip art.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is a file format developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (hence the name) as a bitmap compression format for photographic images. It's the preferred file format for storing and transporting photo images but it has some limitations when it comes to clip art. The biggest drawback is that JPEG does not support transparency. That poses a problem for designers trying to create a layout with colored backgrounds or trying to layer one image on top of another. That annoying white box is always surrounding the element. It's not the JPEGs just wasn't designed for clip art!

I think the biggest fear of PNG files is that people aren't sure how to use them and if their software will support them. The good news is that you use PNG files the same way you would JPEGs. If you normally click "File", "Insert" and select a JPEG to put into your design you would do the same thing with the PNG version. Also, most software (unless you're using something which case you might want to consider upgrading) will support PNG. If Microsoft Word can use it, chances are your software can too.

So give it a try, chances are you'll love it.

Here's a look at the difference between JPEG and PNG:

November 5, 2009

Turkey Tom Comes to Life

So I'm finally getting the hang of turning my clip art into die cuts :) There are two different methods that I'm testing out. The first involves a print and cut (as seen in a previous post) and the other involves cutting each piece out of colored paper and then putting the layers back together again. I like the layered look much better!

Check out the similarities between the digital illustration and it's die cut cousin:

The die cut is about 6" x 6" and has the potential to make an adorable place card for Thanksgiving dinner.  For now I'm going to make a few more as window decorations for the front door.

November 4, 2009

New Look

So I've been playing around with the look and feel of the blog! I'm still having a hard time getting the right picture size to upload but for now this is close enough :)

Thank goodness for all of the wonderful people out there who posted tutorials on how to upload your own background. I was able to use a mix of the instructions to get something of my own posted. It still needs some tweaking so don't be surprised if you see something different every time you peek in.